Ottawa wants to recover $3.2 billion overpaid during the pandemic

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Ottawa wants to recover $3.2 billion overpaid during the pandemic

Some 825,000 collection notices have been sent to taxpayers by the Canada Revenue Agency.

The federal government is trying to recover $3.2 billion overpaid through its various programs to help citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic, namely the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Canadian emergency for students (PCUE) and the Canadian Economic Recovery Benefit (PCRE).

Between May 10 and November 18, 2022, 825,000 notices of redetermination indicating the amount of the debt were sent to taxpayers by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). These are individual COVID-19 benefit recipients who have already been deemed ineligible and have received a denial letter explaining their ineligibility for the benefits they have received, explains via email Sylvie Branch, counselor in relation to CRA media.

“These notices of redetermination are approximately $3.2 billion. ”

— Sylvie Branch, CRA Media Relations Advisor

The CRA is asking them to refund the amount shown, but is advising anyone who has received notice and who believe they are still eligible for these payments to contact its agents.

Note that the number of notices does not reflect the actual number of people, as some people received more than one notice for different COVID-19 benefit programs.

The CRA says it wants to help Canadians who are struggling to repay these debts and says it is ready to work diligently to resolve situations on a case-by-case basis.

The overall verification work for all files will be spread out until 2025, specifies Sylvie Branch. The statute of limitations for collecting debts related to CERB overpayments is six years.

“Therefore, the recovery could take several years after the notices of redetermination are issued.

— Sylvie Branch, CRA Media Relations Advisor

To date, the CRA has identified 25,000 cases of identity theft related to claims for Canada Emergency Response and Economic Recovery Benefits.

L' establishment of identity theft is the result of investigative and analytical work. Each case must be investigated and the investigative work concludes with a confirmation of unauthorized use of a taxpayer's information or the case is deemed unfounded, explains Sylvie Branch.

Throughout the duration of the COVID-19 relief programs, the CRA has adapted and implemented new measures and controls to address suspicious activity. In particular, the CRA has built safeguards into application processes to verify the identity of applicants and has introduced additional controls that require further review of certain applications before they are processed.

Assistance programs like the CERB were based on certificates provided by the applicants. Applicants had to determine for themselves whether they were eligible based on given criteria.

The government then promised that people who applied in good faith would not would not be penalized if they made a mistake in their declaration regarding their eligibility. However, they would have to refund the money received in error.

With information from Louis Blouin

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